Head over heart: The danger of showing love and why it’s worth it

There is pain all around us, and it is our nature to avoid that pain as much as possible. But, in this season of colds and flus (and flu shots), we know that there is some pain that is unavoidable and, sometimes, necessary. Regarding pain in relationships, we often see that the some of the deepest pain can come from someone or something you love. So that begs the question as to whether it is safer to not love in the first place because your heart can just be broken.

C.S. Lewis provides a wise answer and a strong rebuke in The Four Loves:

Of all arguments against love none makes so strong an appeal to my nature as “Careful! This might lead you to suffering.”

To my nature, my temperament, yes. Not to my conscience. When I respond to that appeal I seem to myself to be a thousand miles away from Christ. If I am sure of anything I am sure that His teaching was never meant to confirm my congenital preference for safe investments and limited liabilities.…

There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

HT: Tyler Kenney

How pain points us to God

Every day, each one of faces pain in our life. There is emotional and spiritual pain, for sure, but there is also physical pain. In my case, the pain is a sore back and joints that bark at me more or less each day, reminding me that my body is aging more each day and that my hope lies in more than this earthly body.

Among the people I know, I see people who I know love and trust God deal with varying degrees of pain. My struggles with my back pale in comparison and I am almost embarrassed to mention my own complaints. It is one thing to live a joyful life in God when you are feeling terrific, but what does it say about God when we are hurting?

Do we hurt because of the Fall? Does God use pain for a reason in our lives? In his review of Pain and Its Transformations, Phillip Yancey explores the wonder of pain in our bodies:

Every square millimeter of the body has a different sensitivity to pain, so that a speck of dirt may cause excruciating pain in the vulnerable eye whereas it would go unreported on the tough extremities. Internal organs such as the bowels and kidneys have no receptors that warn against cutting or burning—dangers they normally do not face—but show exquisite sensitivity to distention.

When organs such as the heart detect danger but lack receptors, they borrow other pain cells (“referred pain”), which is why heart attack victims often report pain in the shoulder or arm. The pain system automatically ramps up hypersensitivity to protect an injured part (explaining why a sore thumb always seems in the way) and turns down the volume in the face of emergencies (soldiers often report no pain from a wound in the course of battle, only afterwards).

Pain serves us subliminally as well: sensors make us blink several times a minute to lubricate our eyes and shift our legs and buttocks to prevent pressure sores. Pain is the most effective language the body can use to draw attention to something important.

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